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The Bookends of Marriage

 

All marriages end. Whether by death, divorce or old-fashioned neglect, the rose-hued dreams we had for Happily Ever After become eroded in the passage of time. To love is to risk. Who here hasn’t gambled on love? And if we knew that someday it all would end, would we have taken even a single step in the direction of our dreams?

 

We’re just walking through life, minding our own business (although, increasingly, people are actively searching for love online), when slap bang onto our path walks someone who turns our head. Kapow! Gotcha! Whatever direction it was we thought we were walking in, suddenly changes. Our worlds collide, and in time we’re setting up home or having babies or travelling the world together. One thing’s for sure: when ‘the one’ comes along, most of us will tilt our world sideways to ensure longevity. Compromise after compromise after compromise. Afterall, why wouldn’t we want that wonderful feeling of love to last forever? (well, whatever ‘forever’ actually means in mortal terms)

 

The wedding industry is huge. As a wedding celebrant, my focus is purely on the ceremony and what I can bring to help a couple set the scene for their vows, promises and pledges. I bring my whole heart to this role, and in that wholeheartedness my deepest wish is that their intentions come to fruition.

 

 

But what of those at the other end of marriage? Where is the ‘industry’ (apart from greedy lawyers and divorce courts) or support systems to cushion those who find themselves walking out the other end of marriage – alone – their dreams crushed into the dust? Where are all the well wishers then? Why isn’t there a support team to help you move along with the next chapter/s of your life? Because it’s not pretty, that’s why!

 

When someone is widowed, sure, there’s the funeral, but what of the support for the person who is now living without the daily companionship of their beloved? The bottom line is that there is no one to fill that void. The loss of that vitality and life force that their loved one brought into their lives is akin to an earthquake. The landscape is forever changed. There are support groups for widows and widowers, but it seems to me that, as a culture, we simply don’t have the cushioning needed for this bookend.

And then there are people like myself who, for whatever reason, come to the end of what may well have been a long and happy marriage, and then find themselves separating. Not only does a marital separation of the couple ‘least likely to split’ terrify your friends and have them running in the opposite direction in case it somehow illuminates the fault lines in their own marriage, it also leads to people assuming the one who did the leaving is ‘ok’. The one who is ‘left behind’ is to be pitied and rallied around. It’s not surprising, really, given the litigious culture we live in. We’re virtually raised on the blame game from the get go.

I can hand on heart say, from my own experience, that grieving for a person who is still alive is even more painful that grieving for someone who is dead.

 

 

As a woman, wife, mother and celebrant, I have done enormous soul searching over the past 20 or so months since that first moment I became aware of the inner turmoil looming within me. It’s torn my heart in half over and over. If my husband had been a bad person, or had done something wrong, maybe this path I’ve walked might have been easier. I don’t know. All I know is that I’d irrevocably changed following my dearest friend’s suicide on Christmas Day 2016.

To those who ‘gossip’ that I’m okay and looking good, here’s the truth: I’m not! I just have an ability to know what my needs are and how to tend to my wounds in silence. Solitude is my healer. It always has been.

 

As a celebrant, I’ve offered divorce ceremonies right from the outset. People used to laugh and think I did it for ‘repeat’ business. That one day my wedding clients would come to me to be undone. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am a hopeless romantic (the unpublished romance novels on my laptop are proof enough of that), and do still dream of happily ever after, if not for me, then for every other person walking this earth with that longing. I’m also realistic and know that humans are deeply complex. My own evolution is also teaching me constantly, and as a result my work has to evolve alongside my personal life. In the past, I’ve always felt strongly that a divorce ceremony should involve both parties. I now see that a Parting of the Ways ritual shouldn’t be denied to someone because their ex-spouse isn’t willing to take part or has blanked them.

 

Forgiveness doesn’t require the other person’s permission. To forgive is to free ourselves.

I am so grateful for the 23 years of stability, kindness, love, laughter and care (and the awesome daughters we raised together) that I enjoyed in my relationship. At no level of my being do I see our parting as a failure, though that doesn’t stop the pain of separation. Honouring the change of nature in our relationship is something, that to my mind, doesn’t require a piece of paper from the government.

Into the depths of the woods I shall enter, and true to my nature as a solitary practitioner of healing, I will allow the wisdom and wonder of Mother Nature to be the altar upon which I heal this bone-deep loss. I trust in her to allow my ‘ceremony for one’ to bring both of us a soothing balm that will echo through time and space and love. And maybe, just maybe, my intentions for peace, love, harmony and forgiveness will heal others, too.

“When words are inadequate, have a ritual.”

 

Bohemian Wedding

This week I had the pleasure of officiating a ceremony for Michael and Victoria. They chose a bohemian-themed, personalised, celebrant-led wedding at Watermillock, Cumbria. Their ceremony included a communal ring blessing and a Celtic handfasting.

 

Thank you for choosing me as your celebrant, Michael and Victoria!

 

Here are a few images from this special day. xx

 

 

 

 

www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

 

 

Winter Weddings in Cumbria

It might seem a little odd to blog about Winter Weddings just when I’m working on my Summer tan, but…

There’s a tendency to set wedding dates from Spring through to Autumn, but actually there are some really good reasons to choose a Winter wedding in Cumbria.

In no particular order:

A wedding is a time of joy, celebration and delight! Why not warm up Winter by choosing this time to say “I do”? Banish the grey gloom of Winter with one simple thing: a wedding date!

 

You can add a festive theme to your celebrations.

 

It’s beautiful and cosy indoors, and you can create a truly intimate setting for your special day with fairylights, open fires, and candlelight.

 

 

Being out of season, means you’ve got more chance of getting your first choice of venue, photographer, videographer, florist and CELEBRANT.

 

 

 

Think of all the lovely things about Winter: hot chocolate, woolly blankets, cosy lighting, comfort food. Incorporating these into your wedding day will make it a celebration like no other.

 

 

 

There are some absolutely FAB wedding venues in Cumbria, such as Askham Hall, the quirky ancient ruin Kirklinton Hall, and then there are places like any of those owned by Rowley Estates. And, best of all, if you choose a celebrant to create, write and officiate your wedding day, you can have it where you want, when you want, and how you want.

 

Creating a house blessing ceremony

A home is more than a roof over our head, and protection from the weather. It is a physical representation of our inner world. The more we infuse our home with love, care and devotion, the more we will receive these gifts back.

 

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Our home is a vessel to nurture body and soul, however if we don’t take care of it, by keeping it clean, tidy and imbuing it with loving energy, then it becomes a place that doesn’t support us fully and may even deplete our energy and health. If a house contains stagnant ‘energy’ it is not a healthy place to live.

 

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Although it is more likely that someone would have a house blessing to open and purify the energies when they first move into a new building, you can in fact have a house blessing even if you’ve lived in the same place for thirty years.

 

 

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Blessing one’s home is an ancient tradition, and can be done with a celebrant or you can do it on your own. You may have family and friends there to witness the ceremony and rituals you choose.

 

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Most of us leave our homes several times a week and partake of the outside world through work or school, for example, thereby bringing the energies of those experiences back into the home. Some are positive, some not so much. As humans, we are energetic sponges containing all our experiences. When we come home, we symbolically squeeze those energies from the sponge and they infiltrate our living space. Becoming aware of this, we may choose a seasonal or annual house blessing.

 

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Before your home blessing, take the time to declutter and clean the space. This is essential. You are defining a sacred space, and you can only do so when your intention is clear. Clutter is not conducive to clarity or well-being.

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When you have cleared your space, invite guests to stand in a circle in the room you’ve chosen for the main part of the ceremony. If you are the one officiating the ceremony, make sure you have grounded yourself (imagine roots, like those of a strong tree, from your feet going down deep into the centre of the earth, and a white light from the crown of your head reaching to the sky).

 

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Open the ceremony by lighting a beeswax (or plant based) candle. (Standard candles are made of highly toxic ingredients…you don’t want this in your home). Inwardly, imagine the life force of the flame bringing healing energy into the circle.

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You may wish to use an aura spray, such as one from Healing Orchid Essences, or burn some incense.

Begin with the ringing of a bell (three times), or by playing music that feels sacred to you. You may prefer to sing.

Welcome everyone for being present, both as witnesses and participants in this sacred circle of energy, as you bless your home.

You may feel drawn to inviting in the Angels of the Four Directions, and opening all the windows on the sunrise side of your home, to invite the sunlight and life force to flow into the rooms.

 

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Depending on your beliefs, you can invoke a divine presence, angels, ancestresses, or other unseen energies.

State what your intentions are for this home. For example, you may wish for it to resonate with laughter, love and deep friendships. Maybe your desire is for it to provide a quiet sanctuary from a busy lifestyle. Perhaps there has been illness or a death in the home/family, and this ceremony is to bring new life and happiness between the walls. It could be that there has been a redundancy for the main income earner, and that this has caused deep upset and shock in the home. Maybe a new baby has recently joined the family, and you wish for your home to accommodate the energy that they bring.

 

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You may wish to use sage or cedar or lavender to ‘smudge’ the rooms. As you do, make spiral movements, and be sure to include hallways, and areas around doors and windows. If smudging, candles or incense are not an option where you live, you can sprinkle salt or use rose essential oil (added to water in a small spray bottle).

 

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If you have a besom (broom) you can symbolically sweep out the energies of each room.

 

 

 

Sample Invocation:

Dear Home

We cleanse this space, we make it safe.

We banish all negativity, and replace it with love, hope, happiness and harmony.

May no one go hungry in this home.

May no one experience loneliness here.

May we always have everything we need.

May abundance be expressed here.

We bless you. We love you. We honour you.

Thank you for protecting us from harm, and holding our heartfelt desires in your safekeeping.

We give you love.

We invite friendship, family, food and fun to be lived and celebrated here.

We give thanks for this home.

Blessed Be.

Consider what rituals would feel meaningful for you. For example, you may wish for everyone to choose a quartz crystal from a bowl, and place one in each room of the home. You might choose to burn a tealight candle in the four corners of the garden, scattering a handful of sea salt around each one, to protect your home.

Together, you may wish to craft a pentacle (five-pointed star, representing fire, earth, water, air and spirit) to hang above the hearth. Perhaps it could be decorated with gemstones or feathers.

 

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You may invite each guest to grant a blessing, prayer, poem, wish or intention in one of the rooms.

Each person who lives there may say:
I am (name), and I live, move and have my being in this beautiful home. This home is my sanctuary.

Asking each guest to choose an angel card is a lovely way of invoking celestial energy. You could then place each one on a small House Blessing altar, along with your candle and anything else that feels meaningful, such as a loaf of home-made bread or cake to represent people always having plenty to eat.

Consider which music or sound to include in your ceremony: singing bowls, healing mantras, drumming, singing, chanting, bell ringing. These sounds are deeply purifying and will transform the energy of the space.

On your altar, you may wish to place branches of cedar or sage or a small vase of flowers.

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Closing the circle
Thank your unseen guests, and express gratitude to all who are there.

“May this circle be open, but unbroken. Blessed Be.”

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When I officiate a house blessing, I include readings, prayers or blessings, and talk about the family’s intentions for the home. The ceremony has structure, and features elements and rituals that are meaningful to each member of the family.

Veronika Robinson has been officiating ceremonies since 1995. She has a deep love of the sacred, and derives great joy from creating, writing and officiating ceremonies for people. She specialises in handfastings, but is equally at home conducting more formal weddings, as well as namings, home blessings, blessingways, vow renewals, funerals and memorials. Veronika officiates sacred and inspirational ceremonies throughout Cumbria, northern Lancashire and Southern Scotland, and is particularly fond of outdoor ceremonies. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant